Seabear is the light and fluffy project of 24-year old Icelander, Sindri M?r Sigf?sson, who invites the cream of the Icelandic pop scene, including members of Sigur R?s, M?m and Benni Hemm Hemm to his studio to record these dozen floating pop melodies. Violins, flugelhorns, slide guitars, glockenspiels, pianos, lapsteels and harmonicas all combine to lift his breathy vocals heavenward to float amongst the clouds. There?s a distinct Elephant 6 aroma floating through the proceedings, with the skewered pop inclinations of Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control in their poppiest incarnations dancing along the sidelines.
?Cat Piano? is one of the year?s most perfect pop confections, with harmonica, glock and piano floating along effortlessly through the breeze. Gudbj?rg Hlin Gu?mundsd?ttir (Iceland?s patronymic naming convention indicates that Gudbj?rg?s father?s name is Gu?mund ? she is, therefore, not necessarily related to Bjork, even though they share the same ?last name?) adds an angelic choir to the uplifting pop of ?Libraries,? and her sinewy violin solo and childlike backing melodies would lift anyone confined to a ?Hospital Bed? out of the doldrums. Weeping lapsteel, shuffling drums, dual violins and the marching melody of ?Hands Remember? add a bit of a country air to the album, sort of like a symphonic Neil Young.
Sigf?sson adds chirping birdsounds to the celestial ?I Sing I Swim,? which strangely reminded me of Pet Clark?s ?Don?t Sleep In The Subway?(!) and more field recordings (hooting owls) flitter throughout the Leonard Cohenesque sashay of ?Owl Waltz.? The soft shoe shuffle and wildly flailing violin virtuosity of ?Arms? will have you kicking up your boot heels across the dancefloor, and ?Sailors Blue? soars majestically like Godspeed You Black Emperor-meets- Sigur R?s, without either of those bands? occasional heavy-handed pretentiousness.
With Sigur R?s? latest (?Takk?) deteriorating into esoteric obfuscation and Bjork always orbiting to the beat of another planet, Seabird is a welcome return to the soft, romantic, often other-worldly pop that we?ve enjoyed from Iceland?s underground music scene and it will probably end the year on my Ten Best list. 10/10 -- Jeff Penczak (7 November, 2007)